As the air grows cooler and the winds begin to howl and rip the dead leaves from trees, we know the veil is thin and Samhain is near! After the equinox, which was equal parts night and day, Samhain marks the time of the wheel that we descend into the darker half of the year. It’s this time of the year that communication and connection to the spirit world is a lot easier and we’ve grown accustomed to making wards to protect the home from malevolent energy in the form of jack o lanterns and lights. On a positive note it is a time to leave out treats and foods for passed away loved ones and to remember them. It’s the final harvest full of well spiced comfort autumn foods as well as a ‘New Year’ since it’s a sabbat that honors the natural cycle of death and sees it as a form of transformation.
A lot of us witches practice alone and have our own solitary rituals for each sabbat that we observe (or the ones we’ve created just for ourselves that we observe alone!) Like any solitary eclectic witch I do things my own different way but some of these things might line up with others practices. I do refer to some of the equinoxes/solstices/crossquarters by their celtic sabbat names but I celebrate them in a secular animist way and treat the wheel of the year I celebrate as more of an argrarian cycle and celebrating nature. I use sabbat names as a point of reference and also people that do celebrate these witches sabbats more traditionally might find value in my personal practice! Here is my personal correspondences post and my personal samhain tag!
When I am alone and casting spells a lot of it is visualization/intent so my solitary rituals are more like activities I like to do then specifically casting a spell. If I am doing a spell with an activity based on it a lot would be listening to music to get in the mood and focusing on a candle while visualizing for a period of time! Eves are also important to my celebration as I like to stay up until midnight and cast a spell then!
Tuesday October 31st 2017
Dressing up in your most witchiest Ok every year I’m a witch, whether it’s just a lazy witch in my black clothing or an over the top kitschy witch with colorful hair and electric colored make up, but I just like to have these looks casually on Halloween day cause its amazing and a chance for me to be myself!
Pumpkin Carving! If you haven’t already tonight is definitely the night for pumpkin carving! Write sigils inside your pumpkin for protective magic. I love this DIY for a pumpkin indoor lantern cause it shows how to rub spices like cinnamon and nutmeg inside to achieve that sent of pumpkin pie in the home. Use electric candles instead of flame if you want it to last the night since the flame’s heat will cook the pumpkin.
Mini Pumpkin Tea lights Also an easier alternative to carving if you don’t have much time. Even gutting the mini pumpkins takes a lot of time for me but doing so and filling them with a black tea light will make an excellent centerpiece either for your altar or feast table!
Making Candy Apples I associate candy coated sweet red apples with halloween (and caramel/maple sugar on granny smith for mabon) and I love how you can make the candy various colors like a poisonous black or vibrant blood red!
Setting sweets aside for spirits So everyone has spirits that chill with them and it would be great to show appreciation for the positive spirits that surround you. Set some sweets on a dish and make a tiny altar for them in your space.
Enjoying sweets while doing crafts! Enjoy some of that halloween candy for yourself! My favorite treats on this night are chocolate coated donuts, reeses cups, cider sugar donuts, red licorice and apple cider.
Spirit Contact I wouldn’t suggest using an Ouija board or doing any communication with spirits if you have never had experience. They can be rude and harass you, YET if you are experienced and know how to guard yourself, then this is a great night to play with an ouija board! (PS I think Ouija Girl has a great informative blog about working with ouija boards. Here is her FAQ page. But still, it’s always better to do work with a medium or someone with experience than trying to figure it out alone).
A safer experience for someone with no spirit communication experience is attending a seance! In NYC there are a few mediums that hold seances monthly. I love the one at Catland in Brooklyn, the mediums that host the event there are fantastic. It might be hard to attend an authentic one on Halloween night since a lot of people will want to just try to cash in on creating a 'spooky’ experience, but if you really want, try to get in contact with mediums and ask if they host any seance events. Important to know: usually the spirits that chill around you are guides and family and they might have more info to give you then you might be ready for. My first seance I really don’t know what to do with the info given to me but I really hope I make the best of it and don’t mess anything up.
Witches Flight This is like an extension of the previous point where if you have never done this before just completely disregard this suggestion cause flying is dangerous. For many years witches have flown on Halloween night to other realms using flying ointments.
Protective Magic: Finally, protect yourself from the high spirit activity with crystals like black tourmaline, obsidian and spirit quartz. Do protective spells for any cats you see or live with especially black cats since they tend to be targets.
This sabbat honors the natural cycle of death and transformation. Focus on what you want to transform in your life. Magic on this night is very powerful so think about it before hand and make sure it is what you want for if you ask to transform something, you might find a lot of endings that suddenly occur in your life to lead to the transformations that you want. (There was a conversation on here I can no longer find but it was put really nicely that death is not just some simple 'transformative’ process it can be very drastic, often very uncomfortable and if you are not ready though you ask for something to change, you might not be ready for the new obstacles that will be thrown at you. Just know that you will be ready for what you ask for.)
Some spell activities can be shuffling the deck visualizing what you want to change and then finding the death card and seeing the card that follows will be your answer to seek how you can further bring that transformation closer.
I’m a mixologist and enjoy working with liquor for rituals. I find fire to be a great transformer yet instead of burning something I prefer blessing a shot of whiskey or absinthe with my intent then taking it like liquid fire to transform me within. If you do not like alcohol or can not drink it for whatever reason you can perform this with hot apple cider instead!
Wednesday, November 1st 2017
Upon the day I like to dress in complete black. My makeup is very dark and I wear long black dresses and veils. Depending on how you want to honor the dead, dress how you wish.
Gravesweeping Visit your loved ones on this day and leave flowers and gifts on their grave! If you want you can also visit any cemetery, yet make sure to practice good graveyard etiquette. Leave a penny by the gate, do not sit or lean on any tomb stones, of course don’t take anything from a grave. Be respectful of those whom are resting.
Close Your Garden This is a time to close the garden for the winter to come. Harvest the last fruits and herbs and bring in any delicate potted plants within the home.
Shadow Work Especially if you are looking to transform some aspect of your life this is a great time to do shadow work and look within if you are creating any obstacles for yourself. Get to know your shadow self, get to solve problems together. This is also an excellent day for divination and scrying.
Meditation and Energy Work by the base of a tree I love to do energy work on the days of the sabbats yet as the earth grows colder, the roots dig deeper and the world goes into hibernation. Sit at the base of a tree preferably with thick roots and feel it’s connection to the cold earth beneath you. Dig into yourself and see what needs to rest and what needs to be healed.
Evening Celebratory Feast
So in many practices people like to host a dumb supper but instead I like to have a lively feast where everyone will share a story about someone they loved that passed away or a story of an ancestor in their family. At the end of each tale we toast our glasses to them! (And pour a little bit of drink to them or set aside a snack if they are not into alcohol.)
Hold a feast of rich comfort foods that are spiced and sweet like sweet potato mash, candied brown beans, pumpkin bread, smokey bourbon pulled pork or maple glazed beef brisket, roasted carrots and beets and (I personally love to make baked mac and cheese but its a fall comfort soul food for me). My Samhain feast is abundant with fall soul foods and sweet roots and spices. (here is a fantasy feast post and my personal feast post from last year)
If you are alone (as this is a solitary post), make a few fall dishes you deeply enjoy or cook the favorites of loved relatives that have passed away, eat some sweets and set out some offerings to passed away loved ones.
The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so everything smells of crisp branches …
cider and candy and apples and pumpkins and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds …
Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making